Maine Public Advocate Stephen Ward Suggests That Telephone Customers Claim Refund of Federal Telephone Tax

December 11, 2006

Maine Public Advocate Stephen Ward reminds all of Maine’s telephone customers of their eligibility for a telephone tax credit on their 2006 return to be filed by April, 2007. Individuals may claim a standard refund of between $30 and $60 for federal excise taxes previously paid on their long distance telephone bills for landline, cell phone, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

This tax on all telephone bills in the U.S. was originally created to fund the Spanish American War, and was supposed to end when the war ended 108 years ago! Finally, a series of recent court decisions convinced the IRS that it is not lawful to continue to apply it to long distance telephone service charges (it is still lawfully collected on the local portion of telephone bills).

The Public Advocate first reported on this available tax credit in the October issue of the Ratewatcher Telecom Guide, a 16-page newsletter comparing services and rates of telephone, wireless and Internet providers serving Maine customers. The guide is available, free of charge, to all Maine residents.

Individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations are entitled to receive the one-time refund. The amount for individuals depends on the number of exemptions they claim on their return, as shown below, if they use the standard refund. However, individual taxpayers may also calculate their actual amount paid if they gather their phone records for 41 months – from 2/28/03 to 8/1/06. Businesses and non-profits, however, must determine the actual amount they have paid if they want a refund.

Standard refunds are as follows:

  • one exemption, the standard refund amount is: $30 (e.g. single taxpayer)
  • two exemptions, the standard refund amount is: $40 (e.g. married couple)
  • three exemptions, the standard refund amount is: $50 (e.g. married with one child)
  • four exemptions or more, the standard refund amount is: $60 (e.g. married with 2 children)

Get more information from the IRS’ website:

Contact Information: Wayne R. Jortner 207 287-2445